A boring, ungainly piece of animation, “Delgo” steals from at least a dozen iconic movies and tales for its stilted saga of a young lad saving his gentle people from vengeful baddies. Coal in the stocking looks comparatively better this holiday season, which is of note only as the final screen credit for Anne Bancroft. Pic, which opened Dec. 12 in limited release, should be immediately shunted to vid shelves.
Besides Bancroft, several name voices were lined up for the project (given Bancroft’s death in 2005, the vocal recordings must have occurred at least three years ago) by low-budget outfit Fathom Studios. But the use of Freddie Prinze Jr., Chris Kattan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Val Kilmer, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Louis Gossett Jr., Eric Idle, Burt Reynolds and narrator Sally Kellerman comes to no real effect, since the dialogue is saturated in cliches and the audio recording is strangely muted and eerily disembodied.
The tale pits two races — the aggressive Nohrin, blessed with wings, and the more peaceable and flightless Lockni — against each other in a battle over control of land in the territory of Jhamora. Prelude murkily describing the banishment of the evil Nohrin empress Sedessa (Bancroft) to the distant sticks of Perran won’t help viewers keep things straight before the action starts in earnest with young Lockni hero Delgo (Prinze), who immediately gets into trouble hanging out with cute Nohrin babe Princess Kyla (Hewitt).
Somehow, it took six writers, including co-directors Marc F. Adler and Jason F. Maurer, to fashion a script that lacks a single original thought, story idea or gimmick — all of them borrowed liberally from a library of fantasy fare including “Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis. Eventually arrested due to court intrigues staged by Sedessa’s wily ally Col. Raius (McDowell, whose cutting voice is at least reasonably audible and distinctive), Delgo has to join up with a Nohrin opponent, Gen. Bogardus (Kilmer), to rescue Kyla, whom Sedessa has kidnapped.
To add to the far too familiar motifs, Delgo has both an obnoxious and verbose sidekick (Kattan) and a New Age guru (Duncan), who teaches the lad the “way of the stones,” which play a role in Delgo’s battles against Sedessa and Raius’ forces.
The poorly developed 2-D animation might have been fine during the technique’s earliest workshop phases in the ’90s, but it’s hardly suitable now. The most glaring warts in the character creation and movement will be a bit less visible in smallscreen video, though the consistently poor audio syncing will not.
The choppy, unfunny four-minute short “Chroma Chameleon” is a poor warm-up act preceding the feature.